Office of Affirmative Action

Tips on Recruiting a Diverse Staff

  1. Delay filling positions until you have had an opportunity to carefully analyze your programmatic needs and develop an up-to-date description. This promotes long-range planning and counters the tendency of current department members to simply clone themselves and others.

  2. Start thinking a bit like an athletic coach. Coaches go out and find the talent they need. They don't put ads in the paper and then sit back and wait.

  3. You need to continually recruit-not wait for searches for announced vacancies. This means keeping an eye inside and outside the University for potential staff members of color and women in nontraditional jobs and establishing friendly relationships with them so that if you call and ask them to be a candidate for an open position, they'll be likely to agree.

  4. Have people of color and women on search committees. If that is not possible, assign the role of affirmative action liaison to one of the committee members.

  5. Discuss hiring goals with your Human Resources Representative prior to any hiring or recruiting activity. The profile of the department, the availability figures for people of color, and any affirmative action goals should be reviewed and understood by all members of the committee.

  6. Emphasize results as well as process; be positive rather than defensive and negative, aggressive and visible rather than passive and bureaucratic, flexible and innovative rather than mechanical and predictable.

  7. Treat every vacancy as if it is the only shot you'll ever get to find and hire a candidate who will increase your department's diversity. This means that if you don't get good candidates of color or women in the initial pool, repost and consider outside advertising.

  8. Create student internships and/or part-time positions for women and people of color until regular positions open for which these individuals can be actively considered.

  9. Write position descriptions to ensure that they attract the widest possible range of candidates. Think broadly rather than narrowly about the types of experiences candidates might bring to you.

  10. Keep resumes of prospective women and candidates of color on file.

  11. Recognize that women in non-traditional fields and candidates of color will probably need to be quite aggressively recruited. Competition can be intense and candidates must be "courted" as you would any other outstanding candidate.

  12. People of color and women need to feel that they will be truly welcome at the institution, that they will find a place in the University community. Frequently, it helps to have other women or staff of color (who are not in decision-making capacity in the search) meet informally with candidates to give them a sense of the institution.

  13. Address family issues, including maternity/paternity leave, tenure clock stoppage, family care leaves, etc. with all candidates, not only women.

  14. Search committee chairs should resist strongly the impulse to label one or more of the candidates the "most promising" because this may make it difficult for other candidate to be fully considered.

  15. Do not make assumptions about a candidate. Assumptions that a woman or a member of a particular racial group would not feel welcome in the community or would not be able to relate well to others of different groups are damaging and will work against your diversity efforts. Also, do not make assumptions about a person's willingness to move; their spouse's willingness, etc. Let candidates decide these issues for themselves.

  16. Committee members need to examine continually whether their judgments on a person's character, types of experiences, or accomplishments are being affected by subjective factors, stereotypes or other assumptions.

  17. Candidate "fit"-into the campus and into the community-generally means finding a person who will blend in easily with the existing structures, someone who will not alter dramatically the status quo. Women in non-traditional fields, people of color, and most particularly, people of color who come from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds may be presumed not to "fit" as well as white candidates. Beware of these sorts of presumptions; make every effort to show candidates that they WILL fit, and then let them decide for themselves.

  18. Beware of the trap of measuring everything against one standard. Candidates who got their degrees later in life or from historically Black institutions, candidates who worked part-time when their children were young or whose experience is off the beaten path, may bring rich experience and diverse backgrounds to the campus.

  19. Screen to include candidates. Screening with the primary purpose of narrowing the pool may cause you to miss very attractive candidates.

  20. Do your homework. Read the files of candidates thoroughly before offering opinions.

  21. Think about the new dimensions that diverse candidates will bring to the department.

  22. Other than professional reasons, a candidate's motivation for applying for a position is simply not the business of the committee, neither a screening committee nor an interviewing committee. Unless a candidate offers other reasons in a letter of interest, the committee should operate with the understanding that professional interests motivate the application. To go further invites assumptions and those assumptions frequently lead to negative judgments.

  23. Subtle messages from an interview committee to a candidate can have devastating effects. Consequently, judgments about a candidate's performance may be biased as much by the effect the committee had on the candidate as by the candidate's performance in and of itself. A search committee that is viewed by a candidate as "going through the motions," being hostile to candidates of color, or being generally cold and uncaring is very likely to create the self-fulfilling prophecy of not being able to find any good candidates of color. Conversely, a search committee that exhibits warmth, flexibility, supportiveness, and genuine interest is likely to bring out the best in all of its candidates.

Adapted from Achieving Faculty Diversity: A Sourcebook of Ideas and Success Stories, University of Wisconsin, 1998; The University of California in the Twenty-First Century: Successful Approaches to Faculty Diversity, University of California, 1987; Toward a Re-Vision: Examining Old Patterns and Practices